Originally published by Maggie DiStasi on LinkedIn, June 3, 2019
A Conversation with Christina Greenberg, President of Scala Network
Recently, I caught up with Christina Greenberg, President of Scala Network and a participant in the Business Coaching Advantage Program™. Scala Network is an organization that offers innovative leadership training programs for women, including 1:1 coaching for specific programs and an introductory leadership coaching workshop (the BCA Coaching Quickstart™).
When we spoke, Christina was on her way to facilitate “Building Bonds and Activating Leadership,” one of the sessions in her popular Take the Lead program. She was obviously excited about the program and so that’s where we began our conversation.
MD: What excites you about the session you’re running today?
CG: For me, it’s always the “a-ha’s” that participants and mentors get from the program. And helping women shift from a more nervous, uncertain energy toward being more positive and confident. Work/life harmony is always important to the group, as are topics like self-confidence and mind chatter, negotiating for yourself, and influencing and persuading others. One of the best parts of sessions like today’s is that people really talk to each other and share their experiences and advice.
MD: What inspired you to start Scala Network?
CG: I’m aware of many wonderful programs, including Rotman’s “The Judy Project”, for senior level women, but I always wanted to give women at mid-level the same opportunities and have them experience the feeling every day that you love what you do. This is where the Scala program started.
Our program is different from many others as we focus on very small groups to help foster connections and to offer a safe place to explore any career issues that they feel are holding them back. We only accept one person per company in each program to allow people to have truly open discussions, without worrying about colleagues in the room. That’s not to say it’s about bad-mouthing a company, but rather that you don’t want to say that you have concerns or issues about your leadership or confidence in front of a co-worker.
Our mentors, all senior executive women, join the groups and always offer good advice and insights from their own career journeys.
I hear about what’s going on for women in organizations these days, I trust my instincts, I put it into the Scala context and then I try it out. Listening – not just to what I want to hear but really listening to somebody else’s context – that’s something I learned through your coaching program.
I always wanted to give women at mid-level the same opportunities and have them experience the feeling every day that you love what you do.
MD: Active listening is a key aspect of our coach development program. How else do you find that truly focusing on listening serves you?
CG: Not thinking ahead. I’ve been in meetings where I already know what I’m going to say next. I learned from you, through mindfulness and coach training, that silence is a good thing; it gives the other person time to say more and it gives me more time to think about what I want to say next. I practice being in the moment and listening to somebody else without filtering what they’re saying against my own values.
MD: You brought up coach training, tell me about your experience with that.
CG: I’ve come a long way; it’s been interesting to reflect on that a year later. I used to think that if I showed up as a coach, I’d have to solve someone else’s problem and I’d have to be knowledgeable about everything they’re going through, especially if the other person was more senior.
I understand now that I don’t need to help them that way. I just need to ask the right questions, be present for them, give them an open forum and safe environment to talk, and the more they talk and with the right questions, they will suddenly go “oh, yeah I get that.” We all have wisdom within us and as coach we can help them connect to that. My biggest takeaway was that I don’t have to solve their problems and I don’t have to have the same business knowledge – it’s really about things they struggle with inside of them and helping them get that out and look at it from different perspectives.
MD: Having been a facilitator and mentor for your programs, my sense is that you really bring that coach-like attitude to the programs you develop. When you talk about asking the right questions and providing a safe, open forum to talk – that’s really what Scala is all about.
CG: That’s right, I agree with that. I want to create a “glass half full” mentality and to transform negative energy into positive actions. I help people look at things in a different way, helping them apply a new lens to their world.
MD: What’s important about that?
CG: It helps people be more fulfilled and authentic. Authenticity is my top value, it’s about feeling comfortable in what you do and being in your own skin, feeling confident about that and what you bring to the table on a personal and professional level.
MD: What’s going on for women in leadership today that makes what you do and who you are so important right now?
CG: I think we live in turbulent, uncertain times. Everything’s out there on social media – your performance and your authenticity is challenged all the time. We see these perfect lives on Instagram, and we feel like we need to constantly measure up.
Things are changing as well. I’m encouraged about women having a sense what fulfillment can be for them. They’re into wellness, mindfulness, and mental health is being talked about. I’m excited for women that there is more of an open field for conversation. Organizations talk about wellness now – Scala’s Nourished Leaders program gets sold out immediately. In fact, I’m putting together another program that comes out of my Nourished Leader series. We’ll look at the inner critic, positive energy and the growth mindset, changing habits and patterns, and companies are more open to that.
MD: It sounds like you’re sensing what’s needed at a deeper level.
CG: Yes. You still need all the skills of leadership and to have the intellect and abilities to do a job, but now, I find that emotional intelligence often makes the difference between someone moving up or not. It’s how you apply the skills, build relationships with others and have empathy for others. With Scala, we teach leadership skills and self-awareness. We do it over several months so that people can go away and practice, then come back and discuss how it went. Peer mentoring is also really important. We can learn as much from each other as we can from the facilitator.
With Scala, we teach leadership skills and self-awareness.
MD: I know one of your upcoming modules is a coach training module – what made you choose that?
CG: Leaders need to be able to bring out the best in their people. You don’t always know what’s happening with your employees, what triggers them and creates conflict. Coaching helps you understand what resonates with them, what works and what doesn’t work for them. When I started my career, there was much more the attitude of “you will do it my way” from senior leaders. Now, I find, we’re more collaborative, the environment has changed and it has become the leader’s responsibility to coach and teach and to elevate others to be their best in the workplace.
MD: Which brings us back to your highest value of authenticity and helping people bring their authentic selves to their work.
CG: Because if you are acting from your authentic self, you will be much happier, and things will fall into place.
MD: I love how this value of authenticity continues to come up in this conversation as a through-line to your work with Scala. In the year ahead, what is planned for Scala?
CG: We’re taking the Emotional Intelligence workshop online, and the Nourished Leader series will be available as a blended online/in-person workshop. We’re also working on an in-house wellness and resilience program to take into organizations.
MD: Anything else you’d like to share?
CG: On the coaching part, I think every leader should take your course; it will make them a better leader. You should bring your coaching program into organizations.
MD: As a matter of fact, we do! We’ve been bringing our “Coaching Advantage for Leaders” program in-house for the last several years. It’s quite popular and it’s fun work. Thank you so much for speaking with me today, Christina.
CG: You’re welcome. Thank you.
Because if you are acting from your authentic self, you will be much happier, and things will fall into place.
About the author: Maggie DiStasi is a professional Career and Leadership Coach, specializing in a process-oriented approach to change (think: mindful, creative, organic, goal-emergent). Maggie also works with mid- and senior level leaders, often as they need support around taking on a new role or designing and championing a strategic initiative. She is on the faculty for the Business Coaching Advantage Certification Program™ and a member of the management team for PeopleDynamics Learning Group.
To learn more about PeopleDynamics Learning Group and the Business Coaching Advantage Certification Program™ or our customizable “Coaching Advantage for Leaders” Program, please visit: http://businesscoachingadvantage.com/